At some point, I am going to run out of alliterative titles for the Sunday posts. I wonder how long that will take…
We’re off to the park this morning, as we won’t really be able to get out that much next weekend due to The Invasion (I heard the Prime Minister is coming! Be still, my heart!) so without further ado, I’ll leave you with some links for your Sunday reading pleasure.
This week saw the death of Gough Whitlam, one of Australia’s most enduring politicians, who introduced sweeping social changes to Australia during his short term in the 1970s and then became the only Prime Minister in our history to ever have been dismissed from office. While his term finished before I was even born, his legacy echoed through the next decades. It’s been really interesting to read opinion pieces and obituaries: Gough was by all accounts, a visionary, but was that his downfall, or was it more complex than that? Is there a place for long-lasting, revolutionary politics?
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Several days ago, an independent news website, New Matilda, broke the story about a university professor who had sent apparently racist and sexist emails from his university account. The professor in question had been selected by the Federal Minister for Education as English advisor on development of the new English curriculum (Australia is developing a national school curriculum, so that schools all states will be learning the same core material). At what point is the publication of someone’s private correspondence in the national or public interest, and should we expect, as some argue, that anything sent via email is open for scrutiny?
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As a teacher (albeit one who has been on pause from school for a few years), I found this to be a really interesting article, especially given the way the teacher in question describes her teaching methods. During my teacher training, there was strong encouragement to modify one’s lessons, to make sure that they weren’t simply lectures, and to get children moving around, working together. Given that the teacher in question mentions she had been teaching for fifteen years, perhaps teaching methods have changed—or perhaps this is a difference in how our schools work as opposed to where she teaches—but I do think it’s imperative to really focus on how we expect students to learn, and how effective our teaching is. I know that the professional development in which I participated in my few years as a beginning teacher was almost always focussed on the kinds of content and assessment we should be undertaking. The assessment and the content I could learn from books. I would have much preferred practical assistance in teaching methods, classroom management, and developing better pedagogical skills.
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This was a thought-provoking article about a soldier who fought in World War I and was responsible for saving many lives, receiving the Victoria Cross for his bravery. However, on returning home, he suffered from increasingly debilitating mental illness and was finally hospitalised for the rest of his life. One historian raises the question that perhaps his mental illness contributed to his bravery. I like the way in which she has investigated this. While mental illness can be a chronic and disabling condition, given the necessary coping mechanisms, it can also play a significant role in the achievements of an individual. This is not to say that people should avoid treatment or that having a mental illness is a cause for celebration. However, it is a refreshing perspective that we are whole people, with all our limitations and gifts, and that mental illness can at times can present as both of those.